On the evening prior to this morning's photo shoot, an ominous email was transmitted. It was from the newspaper's photo editor, and included instructions on appropriate attire—no white clothing, no FUBU, tuck your swastika medallions inside your shirt, etc.—and then, added, "if you have any comedy-style props, such as wigs, please bring them to the shoot." Oh jesus.
(Here comes that classic observational comedy setup) Have you ever noticed how every newspaper and magazine article written about bloggers is required to include a photograph of the subject in his "natural" environment i.e. perched awkwardly behind a laptop computer? (Special rules apply to risqué bloggers, who are permitted to be photographed lying belly-down on a bed, sometimes dressed in lingerie and, of course, always perched behind a laptop computer.) For mainstream publications, photographs of comedians have similar rules requiring that the subject look at nutsy and hilarious as possible. Because, really, how is a casual reader of the newspaper supposed to know he or she is about to read an article about comedy, unless the comedian(s) pictured are farting on each other, bugging out their eyes, or stuffing banana cream pies down their pants?
Bob and I discussed the implications of this email, fearing the worst. (i.e. clown noses) We decided we were going to remain absolutely dignified throughout the photo shoot, and the photo editor could eat a bowl of Penis Chow™ if he/she thought we were going to lower ourselves to clowning for the camera. This decision made a lot of sense to me, personally, for reasons beyond my own principles. See, I'm not a very photogenic person, and have a difficult time relaxing for photographers. Therefore, any attempt to pose makes me look as stiff and awkward as an American hostage getting ready to disparage Western Devils in a home made video on Al Jazeera. I'm a bit better in motion—not much better, but better nonetheless.
But what truly amazed me was, once we were on-site and getting ready for the shoot, how instantly we degenerated into a wackadoo minstrel show for the photographer. I mean, full on grinning and shucky-ducking and rubber-facing. It was almost effortless. Even as I was stretching my face into its most hideous pantomime expressions, there was a tiny voice inside my head asking, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" But that voice was powerless against another, much louder voice, telling the tiny voice to, "SHUT IT, BUDDY. CAN'T YOU SEE I'M BUSY BEING A STAR??" It all just happened so fast, as I jumped at the photographer's suggestion to "try that 'see no evil, hear no evil" thing and then, later, grabbed another comedian roughly, as if intending to comically punch his face to death. I sincerely have no idea what either of these suggestions have to do with being funny, but there I was. It was like an out of body experience but, instead of astrally projecting my soul so it was looking down on my corporeal form, my soul just decided to leap from my body and jump into the body of a shittier comedian.
After it was all over, I felt foggy and aching, like I'd just come out of a chloroform nap. I could barely remember what happened. I'm still not sure what I was doing, although I know my smile lines hurt, and my penis smells faintly of whipped cream and bananas.
[Addendum: I wrote this before the NY Post story was published and I'm pleased to say they chose one of the most conservative photos taken that day. Look at this and imagine how much worse it could have been.]